The latest edition of the World Atlas of Dog Breeds highlights dozens of dog breeds -- many rare -- originating in the U.S. of A. Here are a few of those not yet recognized by the American Kennel Club.
The American Bulldog, as opposed to today's familiar English version, is similar to the old 17th-century bullbaiters used to fight bulls for entertainment and supposedly to tenderize the bulls' meat for human consumption. He did not undergo any of the modifications of his English cousins, and has come down the present day in his generally original form. Nearly extinct by World War II, the breed was single-handedly rescued by John D. Johnson of Summerville, Georgia.
An extremely rare breed developed in southern Georgia in the 1800s from the bulldog, brought over from Great Britain in the previous century. Although the Alapaha's ancestors were cattle and pig herders, he was bred to be a plantation watchdog and cattle dog.
photo by Linda Daiber, White Pine Kennels
A descendent of the English and Virginia foxhounds, the breed was initially developed to adapt to the rougher American climate and terrain to be fast, hot on a trail, and wide-ranging, as well as to have an exceptional "voice," that is, the sound they make that hunters can follow.
The French hounds of the Gascogne, Porcelaine, and Saintongeois had been brought to America even before colonial times. These patient, persistent, beautifully voiced hounds were bred to relatively pure form in remote parts of the South. During the early 1900s, as dog dealers and hunters made trips into the Louisiana Bayou, the Ozark Mountains, and other isolated areas of the South, they found these hounds of remarkably pure type. The breed is currently a candidate for future recognition by the AKC.
Just after the turn of the 20th century, Alexander White of Spartanburg, South Carolina, was attending Sunday services at church. As he was leaving, he saw a small brown spaniel wandering about and decided to take him home as a pet for his family. "Dumpy," a male, turned out to be a decent hunter, and White sent him to be trained by his hunting partner, L. Whitaker "Whit" Boykin. That little stray became the keystone of a breed that is now a candidate for recognition by the AKC.
Some 8,000 years ago, "pariah" dogs (feral dogs such as the Australian dingo considered by some to be barely changed descendents of the first dogs) migrated across the Bering Strait to North America. One of these, the Carolina, has lived alongside Native Americans, early settlers, and continental explorers. Although Carolina dogs can be domesticated, they retain strong flight reflexes. Wild Carolina dogs still inhabit the swamps and piney woods of the Savannah River Basin.
In 1686, Henri de Tonti told of seeing dogs with "white eyes" and "mottled spots" during his explorations of French Louisiana. This may be a reference to this breed, which the people of northeastern Louisiana used for fishing, trapping, and running wild hogs and cattle back into the woods. It was named the official state dog of Louisiana in 1979.
This breed is believed to be a direct descendent of the sheep and cattle dogs who accompanied Caesar and his armies to the British Isles in 55 BC. They came to the U.S. with early settlers, integral members of the families that needed the help of an all-purpose farm dog -- worker, protector, and playmate. Bred from crosses of Scotch collie, border collie, and other working types, he was known for years simply as "farm collie." His current name is to differentiate him from other types of collies.
In the 1970s, David Leavitt became disenchanted with the breathing and breeding problems that afflict today's bulldogs. He set out to re-create the soundness and body type of the original bullbaiting dog of the 18th century, but with the temperament of the modern-day bulldog. The breed's ancestors are half bulldog, with the remainder made up of American bulldog, American pit bull terrier, and bullmastiff. The result, enthusiasts claim, is a healthier breed overall.
photo by Sharon Nunley, Nunley Ranch Olde English Bulldogges
What's in a name? In the case of the American pit bull terrier (APBT), quite a lot. Its association with fighting prevented it from gaining AKC recognition in the early 20th century until a schism of sorts erupted when the breed, renamed the Staffordshire terrier, gained recognition in 1936. Bred independently since then, the two breeds have diverged somewhat physically, with the APBT a bit rangier in build than the Staffordshire.
Named for ancestors who performed the very necessary task of vermin extermination in early 19th-century England, this breed may be a cross between the smooth fox terrier and the Manchester terrier. Brought to the U.S. by British migrant workers in the 1890s, the breed was a favorite of Theodore Roosevelt, who hunted with his rat terriers and helped popularize the breed.
Longing for the German shepherds she remembered as a child in Germany, American breeder Tina Barber decided it was time to re-create and nurture a different shepherd: intelligent and easy to train, loyal and strong, and able to do herding and protection work yet be completely trustworthy with children. Although she started with American German shepherd dogs, by 1990 she had a dog that was quite different, and separated her stock from that of AKC-registered German shepherds. According to his fans, the Shiloh is "Lassie, Strongheart, and Rin Tin Tin all rolled into one."
One of many hunting-dog breeds developed within the last century or so in the southeastern region of the U.S., this breed began with Hugh Stephens' desire for a smallish dog who would follow a cold trail while still giving voice. Stephens' cur not only gives voice almost constantly while hunting, but changes the tone of his baying when the quarry is treed.
Like the rat terrier, this breed is a descendent of the working terriers brought over to the U.S. by English miners in the late-18th and early-19th centuries. Eventually, the disparate ratting terriers began to be differentiated by size and leg length. The shorter-legged rat terriers were given the name Teddy Roosevelt terrier, because of their association with the 26th president, who is believed to have owned some of these dogs.
photo by Susan McCarty, McCarty’s Rat Terriers
The "cur" breeds' roots are in remote and rural parts of the U.S., where coming home with something to eat mattered far more than standardized looks. As standardization began, this particular breed still kept his wide variety in size and colors. Today, he remains a hunter, guardian, and stock dog. He is famous for bringing home squirrels, raccoons, and all types of big game, and he is, not surprisingly, an outstanding tree dog.
photo by David Schneider, While Plains Kennels
Information in this gallery was drawn from the World Atlas of Dog Breeds, 6th Edition, by Dominique De Vito with Heather Russell-Revesz and Stephanie Fornino. With profiles of more than 420 dog breeds and varieties recognized by seven major international registries and organizations, the World Atlas is the foremost reference of its kind. This complete encyclopedia features revised, rewritten, and all-new text; an innovative design; and vibrant photos, making it the most comprehensive reference available.